WiFi flaw: you’re most at risk in a hotspot or café

Caroline Scotter Mainprize | October 18, 2017

‘Keep calm and carry on’ is our message to individuals and businesses worried by the news of a flaw in the WPA2 authentication system for WiFi.

As usual, media reports are full of doom and gloom. Even the BBC website, which is normally relatively measured, screamed: ‘The wi-fi connections of businesses and homes around the world are at risk … Experts said it could leave “the majority” of connections at risk until they are patched … The researchers added the attack method was “exceptionally devastating” for Android 6.0 or above and Linux.’

But First Line Operations Director John Crozier has urged people not to panic, pointing out: ‘As this is a WiFi vulnerability you have to be within range to hack it, so unless someone parks up outside your house or office for a few days the risk is pretty low.’

He does warn that hotspots, cafés, and any publicly shared WiFi networks will be riskier – presumably it would be possible for a hacker to camp out all day in the corner of a café without notice. However, the answer is just to stay away from them, or use 4G, until the problem is patched.

And John anticipates that the vulnerability will be patched pretty quickly, so it’s worth checking for updates manually and not waiting for them to be pushed out. That’s what First Line will be doing for all clients with WPA2-enabled devices.

He concludes: ‘So I guess the advice is stay away from hotspot areas, check for operating system updates manually, and confront anyone in strange vehicles parked on your driveway!’

Also worth noting is that although this hack by-passes your router password security, it’s still worth making sure you have a strong password.